The nation of Israel had failed to exercise their faith in Jesus. They were professing to be faithful as they waved palm leaves as He entered their city, yet they were fruitless in practicing their faith. Within a few days of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, they would deny Him as their King and yell out for Him to be crucified!
"And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, 'It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a robbers den.' And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' they became indignant and said to Him, 'Do you hear what these children are saying?' and Jesus said to them, 'Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself?' And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, 'No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.' And at once the fig tree withered."
After Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem the Bible tells us He entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling and turning over the tables. It appears that some had forgotten whose house the Temple was. Commercialism and greed had altered the character of the Temple. Temple currency used to purchase sacrifices was subject to extortion. Jesus chose to clean out the Temple one last time. In righteous indignation, "He who comes in the name of the Lord," overturned the money changers' tables and benches in the outer court of the Gentiles.
Having heard the commotion, the courtyard was in chaos. Yet those who had needs did not hesitate, nor did the children. First, the blind and lame came when they heard Jesus was in the Temple. As the children saw Jesus standing there and teaching, they began to shout again, "Hosanna, Hosanna, to the Son of David." There was nothing the Pharisees could do to stop Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus told them: "Have you ever read, from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?"
Jesus had spent the night in Bethany. As He was returning to Jerusalem, He noticed a fig tree that had produced leaves ahead of the season. Jesus knew that fig trees bear fruit twice a year: June and September. It was April, so even the unripened fruit should have still remained for Him to eat. Since the fig tree had leaves, He expected it would also have figs, but their were none - it was fruitless! Because of this, Jesus cursed the tree, and it withered. The disciples were surprised at this.
Just as Jesus had cursed the fig tree, He would judge a generation that rejected Him. Jesus used the disciples' surprise to teach on genuine faith in God, rather than doubt or simple amazement. The faith of Jesus' followers would be greatly tested in the days prior to His resurrection.
Let's not be too hard on Israel. We too have sinned, having more knowledge, and deserve God's judgment as well. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for all of us who will believe in Him. Jesus, the Creator and Eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. May we strive to live for Him. Do we Believe? Do we Trust? Have we accepted Him as our Savior? Is He our Lord? Have we been baptized as He commanded us to do in order to receive forgiveness of sin and the gift of His Holy Spirit. Do we really want to spend eternity with God and our Lord in heaven? If we answer Yes, then the question is: How are we living? Are we truly following Jesus by proving our love to Him by our Obedience to what He has told us we need to do. We cannot make up our own rules so we can satisfy OUR desires. God's Scriptures are TRUTH! If we are not faithfully living for Him then we have chosen an eternal path which will not lead to heaven. I hope each of us will determine to live faithfully and fruitfully for our Lord and Savior.
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
"Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
George Mueller of England, a remarkable man of prayer, was once crossing the Atlantic by ship when a dense fog set in and forced the ship to slow to a crawl.
Mueller consulted the captain: "Sir," he said, "I must be in Quebec for a speaking engagement on Tuesday."
"Impossible!" replied the captain. "I've been sailing these seas for years. When a fog like this sets in, it stays for a week. It would have to lift immediately for us to make it."
"Captain", Mueller protested, "God made that engagement for me, and I know he intends that I keep it. Let's go to your cabin and pray."
Although he was a Christian, the captain couldn't believe his ears. He had never heard such an off-the-wall proposal before. Can't you see him standing there gulping in amazement, his eyes threatening to pop out of his head, saying to himself, "What lunatic asylum turned this poor fellow loose?" Reluctantly, he escorted Mueller to his cabin and shut the door. Mueller knelt down and in simple, childlike faith prayed, "Father, I pray that you will lift the fog within five minutes."
When he finished, the captain was going to pray, but Mueller stopped him. "I don't want you to pray," he explained, "Because you don't believe God will do it, and because I believe he already has. Open the door and see."
The Captain opened the door to discover that the fog was lifting. Mueller arrived in Quebec on time.
Sounds incredible doesn't it. When did you or I last see such a dramatic answer to our prayers? But, then, when did you or I dare to put our faith on the line and trust God that far?
Matthew 19:26 says, "With God all things are possible." Do we really believe that!
I challenge all of us who are Christians, who do believe that passage of Scripture, to pray like never before, in total faith, that God will heal our land of this horrible disease that has crippled our country and the world. Let us pray for our leaders as they trust God's direction. May we all adhere to the directions we are given and be patient through it all. It is possible to stop this immediately through our prayers of faith. It is also possible that it will linger on for a while. Whatever, the case, I am convinced that God will work the impossible within it. He will also teach us faithfulness and trust and patience and kindness, and love through this. I know that He is with us! I know He will help us! I know He will deliver us. May we be faithful in prayer and faithful in our witness as we lead and help one another and those who do not know our God and Savior.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.